Svetlana Boym, 1966–2015

The Russian theorist, Harvard professor and author of The Future of Nostalgia has died

Svetlana Boym Courtesy Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative

Svetlana Boym, Curt Hugo Reisinger professor of Slavic and comparative literatures at Harvard University and theorist in aesthetics and philosophy, has died.

Boym’s research included the politics of memory, the off-modern condition, relationship between estrangement and exile, art in the public sphere, political and artistic freedom. Coined in her seminal book The Future of Nostalgia (2001), the concept of off-modern was defined as a non-linear reading of the history of modernisation recovering hidden potentials of the modern project, or ‘a detour from the deterministic narrative of 20th century history’ where ‘reflection and longing, estrangement and affection go together’.

Boym was  awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Cabot Award for Research in Humanities, and an award from the American Council of Learned Societies; she sat on the editorial collective of the interdisciplinary journal Public Culture and was an occasional curator organising a media art exhibit in 2006 at the Ljubljana Factory Rog Art Space during the City of Women Festival and Territories of Terror: Memories and Mythologies of Gulag in Contemporary Russian-American Art at the Boston University Art Gallery the same year.

6 August 2015.